An Almost Infomercial-like Description of My Love for Circumference 5
Once again I’m going to tout Circumference as the most interesting journal around these days. Not because of the consistently high quality of the work therein, as there are numerous journals that maintain a consistent & high standard, but because of the pure joy of surprise. By setting the editorial scope at interesting poetry in translation rather than “the best of American poetry,” which seems to be the unspoken aesthetic guideline of most journals & which obviously leads to a kind of categorization based on the interests & passions of the editors, the styles of poetry in Circumference vacillate wildly from one page to the next. one moment surrealist the next moment deadpan, one moment highly imagistic the next moment evocatively crass. Because of the variations of cultural context, the work frequently requires a new way of negotiating & understanding a poem. All of this without a kind of textbook-like dryness; I never feel like I should be reading these poems, instead I really want to read them. Because of the high quality of the editting I know this diversity will not let me down let me down—they inspire a faith that compels me to dig into every poem.
Additionally, something I don’t think I’d mentioned before, Stefania Heim & Jennifer Kronovet, the editors, expand the poetic palate beyond the languages Americans are typically taught in high school. Their opening letter to the readers points out the fact that more people in the world speak Portuguese than French German, Italian or Japanese. I certainly would have never guessed that & it reminds me of the codified way I often think of poetry in translation. This issue of Circumference has poems in Ahtna, an Inuit language I’ve never heard of; a poem in Occitan, a language I only vaguely know about; & an incredibly interesting & weird poem by a poet Judita Salgo translated from Serbo-Croatian, a language I only infrequently see translated.
I think Circumference is in the oddly wonderful position of both doing a great service for the American poetry community by presenting a wide range of poetry in translation, & publishing one of the most enticing & delightful magazines on the scene.